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If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em

A lot of people have been wondering how, with the rise of young, so-called post-racial politicians, the old guard of civil-rights leaders will adapt.

I caught up with the Reverend Al Sharpton this morning after he spoke at an event on education reform. I asked him afterwards how he would push education reform as a civil-rights issue while countering the opposition of traditionally liberal actors like teachers unions. "As we change the paradigm in politics," he said, "we have to change the paradigm in the civil rights coalition." He then mentioned a new generation of civil rights leaders who represent that paradigm shift, leaders like Deval Patrick, Barack Obama … and himself. "We're all part of that late 40s, early 50s generation," he continued. (Sharpton, who I thought was ageless, is only 54.) I'm all for the Reverend's new efforts on education, but this seems a rather brazen effort at rebranding.

--Ben Crair